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Meet Jen & Dave, Abandoned Luncheonette

A creative couple providing a profound community experience through their business.

About

Jen & Dave have created a welcoming “nosh-n-shop” that truly represents their personality. The Abandoned Luncheonette, located in Moorestown NJ, is a vegetarian restaurant / coffee shop that sells cool crafts, affordable art, a curated selection of vinyl records, CD’s, movies, books and vintage items and curiosities.

Jen and Dave think of the Abandoned Luncheonette as an ongoing project that allows them to have fun and be creative as it continues to evolve as a community gathering space.

People can expect to find delicious vegetarian and vegan food prepared with intention, using a variety of local ingredients. In addition, you may find an array of interesting beverage options utilizing ingredients from like-minded vendors.

The Shop

The Abandoned Luncheonette is a small space that can accommodate 12-15 seated customers. Its location is off-the-beaten-path, several blocks away from Main Street, the town’s primary commercial thoroughfare.

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“We feel like the combination of the food we offer, the merchandise we carry, and the cozy, welcoming environment inside makes our place unlike any other in the area,” says Dave.

During store hours, Jen takes care of the cooking/food preparation and Dave takes food orders. The shop has a steady flow of costumers and folks rarely wait to find a seat. Moreover, outside the store, merch is displayed on tables along the sidewalk.

The Abandoned Luncheonette hosts different kinds of events throughout the year. Usually there is special activity like live music, bingo, music sharing, book reading/signing, special guest, etc. During the event Jen & Dave like to limit the menu to select snacks/treats, rather than full-service. These events often occur outside of their typical Saturday 9am-3pm hours.

Moreover, some menu items stay the same week-to-week, and throughout the seasons the menu keeps changing for various reasons.

“It depends on what ingredients are in-season, what is selling well, and the goals of having some consistency as well as new food items/ingredients/variations for our customers to try,” says Jen.

Community

Jen and Dave are aware that access to good food, good music, good books, friendly people, and safe places to hang out are essential to any great community. Based on the warm feedback they receive from the community, we can assume that they provide all those things, in addition to hosting fun events, supporting local artists, and raising funds and awareness for causes they like to support.

The abandoned luncheonette has collaborated with others to plan and promote several events. These include:

Art show with wood worker Sean Kain (from Moorestown)

Book signing/food tasting with chefs/authors Ruth Fox and Vicky Cohen (Cherry Hill area)

Live music performances by Red Desert Motel (Woodbury area)

Collector, Music Band (Moorestown)

Film screening/discussion with Moorestown natives Jon Khanlian and Haig Hovnanian,

Vegan dessert night with The Chilly Banana (Moorestown/Philadelphia area)

Recently, they also have collaborated with Pee-Wee’s Pints ice cream (Haddon Township) to create the world’s greatest Chipwich.

And of course, they have had a table set up on Main St. for Moorestown Day. They are proud members of the Moorestown Business Association.

Future Plans

Their long-range plans are ever-changing; however, they plan on continuing the Abandoned Luncheonette project unless it’s no longer fun. On the other hand, they are having fun with how things are now. They hope to have special events every month or two, including artists / musicians / authors / chefs with whom they have not collaborated before.

Meet John Welch

A young electronic dance music (EDM) producer shines in Moorestown, NJ. 

This hobby started five years ago when Mr. Welch was first introduced to EDM by a friend and since then his love for the genre has increased exponentially. In respect to his EDM passion, he is self-taught; however, he carries a strong music background; seven years of drum and two years of piano lessons which helps him to fine-tune his new electric creations. 

“I think the fact that all you really need is a laptop and the appropriate software, has helped me to become a better producer. It’s such an easy and casual habit to pick up in terms of convenience and equipment needed. I especially love the idea that anyone can create a “Hit Song.”” says Mr. Welch. 

Furthermore, Mr. Welch became interested in DJing along with two other friends. While in high school, they started to DJ for a few years performing for school events, sweet sixteens, graduation parties and shows at a club in Philadelphia opening for a few big name EDM artists. 

“I think the most satisfying thing for me is to listen to a song I created a couple years ago and compare the overall quality to something I’ve made more recently. This helps me realize how far I’ve actually come in terms of experience in producing. In addition, my biggest goal is to create music that others can enjoy.” says Mr. Welch.

Near the end of Mr. Welch’s high school year, his desire for creating his own electronic music was omnipresent in his mind. As a result, on his own he began by simply playing with music software. For the past couple of years, from his home studio he shared his music to a close trusted group of people, and as of now, he knows that he has progressed to the point where he feels comfortable releasing his music through public outlets. 

Video: John Welch talks about his hobby, producing eletronic dance music.

“For me it’s less about “being famous” and more about enjoying what I do. If more and more people start to listen to my music in the future, then that’s just a perk of doing what I love.” says Mr. Welch.

Meet Jennifer Dunne

A career driven person whose passion benefits the community.

Jennifer Dunne is a proud South New Jersey native. Growing up in Moorestown, Ms. Dunne attended preschool through high school here, and the library was an essential and fun part of this education. Ms. Dunne never thought of becoming a librarian, however, she had an affinity for English literature. For this reason, she obtained an English degree with a Minor in Education wanting to become a high school English teacher. 

During her higher education, she understood that some of her ideas of teaching were too flexible for the existing structure of most schools. Consequently, her aspiration experienced a sudden pause, and she went to work for a government consultant until she found the right place that could embrace her ideas.  

Her job was to compile records for EPA Superfund sites and send them to public repositories in the affected communities, including public libraries. As she sent these records to the libraries, a new desire enchanted her imagination. 

Ms. Dunne said, “I began to fantasize about working in places where people could come in and learn about absolutely anything.” 

After several months of visualizing, one of her friends mentioned that the Moorestown Library was looking for part-time help in their Children’s Department. She started working evenings and Saturdays, and quickly learned that she had found the right environment.

Ms. Dunne said, “I especially loved talking with kids about books. I loved their enthusiasm, and I loved being in their world.” 

Within two years she saved up enough money to resign from her jobs, and go back to Rutgers University for a Master’s in Library Science (MLS.) After graduation, to work for the Moorestown library was a career goal for Ms. Dunne. However, there were no positions available. Therefore, she interviewed with lots of different libraries within the state of New Jersey. At the time, Ms. Dunne could have worked for any of the libraries she interviewed in because she had the option to learn from experienced librarians and simultaneously refine her ideas. 

Moorestown Library

Accordingly, Ms. Dunne accepted a position in the Somerset County Library and worked there for five years at their headquarters and cycled through two different branches. This experience was a fantastic training ground as a children’s librarian. After five years she was fully equipped with the knowledge and field experience needed to keep perfecting her craft anywhere. Fortunately for Ms. Dunne, the position that she wanted to have at the Moorestown Library opened around the same time. As a result, in 2007 she accepted her current position at the Moorestown Library as the Principal Librarian for Children’s Services.

Ms. Dunne said, “….I was thrilled. Personally and professionally, it was great timing for me to come home.”

As a librarian, Ms. Dunne loves to work with children, she believes that they are easier to entertain, and interactions with them are less complicated than adults. In addition, Ms. Dunne has great patience for children. She loves the playful world of children like toys, colorful clothes, silly jewelry and especially children’s books. Working with children is Ms. Dunne’s passion, in other words, it does not feel like a job. She is thankful that she can retreat into a world that is playful, peaceful and full of possibilities. An unplanned benefit of this career, is that through working with children she has created a path to cultivate strong relationships with the adults that love them. 

Ms. Dunne said, “When you share a common passion with someone, and that passion is their child, then you have a natural bond.”

Other unplanned benefits of working as a librarian in Moorestown, is how visible the position would make Ms. Dunne throughout the community. If fact, it has opened lots of doors for her to do story telling at the Moorestown Community House, the Farmer’s Market, Family Circle Playgroup, local pre-schools and even birthday parties. Her passion has enabled her to become a very productive member of the Moorestown community. As a result, she has found immeasurable happiness through how she has been welcomed and embraced in so many different places. 

Moreover, Ms. Dunne is a person that has a tremendous amount of compassion for people. She has been involved in lots of different volunteer projects, primarily through church. She works with a local organization called The Waymakers. They send supplies, support sanitation, and education projects in Ghana. Also, she is a Stephen Minister, which is a trained person who develops relationships with people who need support during challenging times in their lives. Also she does publicity for her church’s monthly coffee house, Grounds for Good.  She has been a blood donor since high school, and for the last seven years, she has been coordinating blood drives through church.  Furthermore, she helps out in her daughter’s Sunday School class and in her kindergarten through Art Goes to School. 

Ms. Dunne is passionate about her work because children and learning are important, and her career is based on that. She believes that libraries are essential to these two things. Libraries are places where people can participate in education and entertaining their children. And what is amazing about these places is that everything is free, giving everyone access to books, movies, music, story times and performances. And because of these qualities, she also believes that libraries are very important to building a strong community.    

At the Moorestown Library, Ms. Dunne’s work provides plenty of satisfying moments on a weekly basis.

Ms. Dunne said, “There are so many lovely moments when a parent or grandparent tells me how their child says rhymes or sings songs from Storytime at home, or even pretends to be “Miss Jen” by reading books to their stuffed animals. Little kids run up to me and hug me and blow kisses. I love to see the very small children clap or sing along for the first time, or try to make an itsy bitsy spider with their fingers. They are experiencing social learning and becoming part of the group, and I get to be a part of that, over and over again! This is the beginning of a lifetime of learning and trying new things and it is thrilling to me.” 

Moreover, with older children, she loves recommending books and having them back and say how much they loved the book. Recently, she ran into a thirteen-year-old girl who grew up coming to the library. The girl was telling Ms. Dunne how busy she is at school and suddenly paused and said these words, “Miss Jen, no matter how busy I get, I always make time every night for a book.” Ms. Dunne was very proud of her because she is taking a habit that will probably last a lifetime with endless wonder, learning, and excitement. Knowing that this young girl’s habit is associated with her, nearly made Ms. Dunne cry.  

Ms. Dunne sees herself as the children’s librarian at the Moorestown Library for the rest of her working life. For her, this profession is sustainable because it never gets boring, and the variables are always changing: books, children, ideas, technology, and even the role of libraries. In fact, the profession has changed a lot since she first started, and according to her, that’s a relatively short time.

Ms. Dunne see herself in Moorestown, and plans to live and work here for a very long time. She aspires to have a life like her mother’s, traveling, volunteering and spending lots of time relishing in the company of grandchildren. Ms. Dunne is currently working on a future where eventually her daughter will look back and feel that it was filled with magic, wonder and love. When she is gone, she wants her daughter to have great memories and see her as a role model just like Ms. Dunne remembers her father. 

Ms. Dunne said, “I’d love for the children I work with, when they grow up to take their children to the library, and read to them because these actions create fond memories of their library. I hope the children I work with will grow up to see themselves as lifetime learners. That is the value of reading and libraries as I see it. I also hope to serve as an example that whatever work you choose, it should be thrilling, rewarding and motivating. I hope to be one of many people in a child’s world who helps them see work not as an obligation, but an adventure. I want children to look forward to the opportunity to work and to be excited about their prospects.”  

As a parent who participates in the Moorestown Library’s activities, Ms. Dunne’s existence has been very valuable in making our experience there, wonderful. She is a loving person who really cares and puts a tremendous effort in her work. She truly is an amazing person with children. My daughter, who now is 18 months of age, has learned many things with her since she was 9 months old. As a father seeing my child being part of a larger group learning, playing, flourishing and being happy is priceless. Thank you Ms. Dunne for being who you are, an individual who cares about people and takes pride in what you do.